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Courtesy of Sonos


How A Mid-Size Speaker Company Will Take Over Your Ears

The Hi-Fi speaker company, Sonos, is betting big on software, streaming services, and discovery.

Sonos just added SoundCloud to the list of streaming music services it supports. The mid-size speaker company has now laid claim to more streaming audio services than any other company producing wireless audio platforms.

According to Raja Subramoni, Sonos’ director of product marketing, this was the goal all along.

“From our inception more than 12 years ago, we believed that there would be thousands of music services for people to choose from,” Subramoni told Mid-Market Pulse. “We developed the Sonos platform with that vision in mind because we believe that customers should be able to choose the service they want and not have to worry whether or not a speaker supports it.”

Sonos never subscribed to the adage, “If you build it, they will come.” The 12-year old mid-market company started out with a goal to reinvent home audio, and pioneered the blending of software, speakers, and online music services to create a new category of audio hardware. Its wireless high-fidelity speakers grabbed a captive audience of music lovers who could afford to spend an extra $1000 placing Sonos speakers throughout their homes.

Along the way, those speakers got smaller and the prices came down. Then with an influx of $135 million in funding in 2012, Sonos set out to pull in even more marketshare with the release of its $200 Play:1 speakers, just in time for the holiday season.

The move sent revenues soaring. According to Sonos, which is operating at break-even, revenue doubled in 2013 to $535 million.

Subramoni points out that Sonos is still working to build out “the ultimate home music experience and having the simplest and quickest path to the music of their choice is a core part to delivering on our promise” to customers. The company overhauled its controller app giving it a new interface with improved navigation to pull in streaming music from the likes of Spotify, Beats Music, TuneIn Radio, and now SoundCloud.

“As more music services come to market, we’re seeing people spend more time listening to music,” says Subramoni. Nielsen’s latest Soundscan numbers bear this out. Digital track and album sales slipped for the first time last year. In its place, digital radio took over. Pandora alone streamed 1.49 billion hours of music to over 72 million users in one month.

Competition is nipping at Sonos’ heels from the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung, and Pure. But so far Sonos’ integration with Google Play Music –the fastest growing service in 2013— is keeping it ahead of the pack. With over 80 percent of the WiFi speaker market, Sonos is also relying on the 200 patents it holds to prevent other companies from chipping away at its stronghold.

Subramoni contends that the company is betting on discovery. “It’s that curiosity and interest in new music that fuels our commitment to making it easier and faster to play whatever song you want on Sonos.”

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